Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 1 News List

China strikes back at US with new import tariffs

REUTERS AND AFP , BEIJING

China will raise tariffs on some American imports, the Commerce Ministry said yesterday, in a step that comes just days after a fresh trade spat sparked by a US move to cap imports of selected Chinese textiles.

"The Chinese side will raise import tariffs on some commodities imported from the United States and we are currently studying relevant plans," Vice Commerce Minister Ma Xiuhong (馬秀紅) told the official Xinhua news agency.

Putting some distance between the announcement and the US move on textiles, Ma said the new tariffs were in response to US duties on steel imports enacted a year and a half ago -- duties that the WTO has recently ruled illegal.

She did not elaborate and a ministry spokesman said details of the new duties were still being worked out.

Simmering tensions between the world's biggest and fifth biggest trade nations flared on Tuesday when Washington said it would cap imports of Chinese knit fabrics, bras and gowns.

US Ambassador to China Clark Randt was called in by Vice Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong (周文重) on Wednesday to receive a complaint over the decision, Xinhua reported yesterday.

Zhou reportedly told Randt that the Chinese government "was shocked at and expresses dissatisfaction with the US decision, which had been made despite strong opposition from the Chinese side."

China again threatened to take the issue to the WTO, with fears stoked that Washington may be shifting to more protectionist policies.

"The Chinese government reserves its right to take further actions," Zhou said, adding that he hoped the US government "will change its wrong decision and return to the path of resolving disagreements through dialogue and cooperation."

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